SEOUL, Police said Wednesday they may again bring in a ruling party lawmaker linked to suspected Internet news comment rigging for questioning after fresh evidence indicated he received donations from an online community run by the power blogger accused of the crime.
Seoul Metropolitan Police Agency said it found a digital file showing transactions worth 27 million (US$25,000) made to Rep. Kim Kyoung-soo of the Democratic Party from some 200 members of an online-based association headed by the blogger known as Druking.
Police are trying to figure out whether the donations were paid voluntarily by individual community members, or if the Druking group's leadership pressured them to fund the lawmaker. Kim was questioned by police last Friday.
Kim, known for his close ties with President Moon Jae-in, is at the center of a ballooning political scandal that has sparked a huge controversy ahead of the June local elections. The blogger, surnamed Kim, has been arrested and charged for allegedly manipulating the number of "likes" or "feel the same way" clicks on news articles critical of Moon Jae-in's government early this year.
Police said earlier in the day they began analyzing fresh evidence showing Druking and his crew engaged in the suspected rigging months before last year's presidential election.
They are examining the digital traces of a USB obtained during a raid that shows some form of artificial activities regarding comments on some 90,000 Internet news articles between October 2016 and March of this year.
They are trying to figure out whether the comments were deliberately altered in any way by a computer program, just as Druking is alleged to have used a macro program to boost the number of likes.
Police said they requested a court warrant to force him to undergo questioning, as he has refused to speak to police about the allegations.
Druking has claimed he decided to carry out the rigging after the lawmaker turned down his request to appoint two of his acquaintances to government positions. Another associate of Druking has told police that he bribed the lawmaker's aide with 5 million won (US$4,600).
Of the 90,000 articles, police are focusing on 624 published between April 14 and May 9, the day when the election took place, police said.
Other evidence they are looking into includes messenger chats between Druking and his crew that reveal the blogger was briefed by his associates on the progress of the suspected rigging activities.
Source: Yonhap News Agency